Did you know that Teen Health Source has been around for 25 years! Started in 1993, Teen Health Source has grown from just a phone sexual health info line into a total phone/text/email/online chat peer education service PLUS this very blog that you’re reading RIGHT NOW! To help celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we’re checking in with some of our previous volunteers to see what THS was like when they were on the lines, and where they’re headed now. Today we’re hearing from Maggie!
It was awesome! The office was filled with sex-positive posters, interesting book and many snacks. It was a welcoming environment where you could meet and get to know lots of great people and other wonderful volunteers.
At the end of the day, the space was open to doing what felt right for you, be it chatting with other volunteers, or laying back and reading one of the books in the office. Personally, I loved the busy shifts where we would get lots of chats and texts, it was so interesting to see the diversity of questions people have on sexual health related topics!
I consider myself very passionate about sexual health, mainly because when I was a teenager I grew up in an environment where sexuality was considered extremely taboo. I am also a fairly reserved person, so I educated myself on all things sex related, but I didn’t really know where and how to reach out about things I didn’t know or wanted to know more about. I was really ashamed to do so. I eventually overcame that, and it felt important to help others overcome it too.
When I heard about Teen Health Source, I knew it was a perfect fit. Had I been aware of something like Teen Health Source when I was younger, I 100% know I would have used this resource (too much). So being able to help other folks with their questions and concerns felt like things came full circle.
My time at Teen Health Source is very dear to me because it confirmed my passion for all things sexual health related and reinforced my desire for helping others. I chose gender studies as a focus during my undergrad, and being at Teen Health Source helped me a lot with navigating that side of my studies. It was a practical way of implementing what was taught in class. Volunteering also gave me sense of purpose which is still present in my life today.
On a more practical note, the things I learned in training and throughout volunteering are SUPER useful for everyday sexual health related matters, whether it be for myself or friends.
OHIP+ ! When I was volunteering at Teen Health Source, OHIP+ was in the works but it felt like a distant reality. It’s exciting to see things like birth control and emergency contraceptives (not all, but it’s still a good start) being covered for young people. [Ed: Check out our blog post on OHIP+: Link]
Teen Health Source is obviously a great resource, but as another online resource I find super helpful is sexetc.org [Link]. They have insightful blog posts and articles, and even have a communications tool section on their website aimed at helping teens introduce difficult or intimidating topics of conversation with their healthcare providers, families and other people in their life which is a great first step for teens who want to talk and share their thoughts, but are unsure of how to go about it.
Thanks, Maggie! For more in our 25th Anniversary series, check out teenhealthsource.com/tag/25-years
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This past month, Planned Parenthood Toronto in collaboration with Regent Park Focus collaborated with GTA youth to create 4 radio shows about sexual health. Check’em out!